first telescope was a 3 inch "Tasco" refractor. As soon as I
looked into it and saw the moon and the rings of Saturn and giant
Jupiter, I knew I was into this hobby for the long haul. Within months
of getting the refractor, which I bought at a garage sale for $20.oo I
was looking for something bigger and better. I sent for all the
catalogs and did a lot of comparison shopping. I was pleased with
a new company that had just started up, known as Meade Telescopes. They
offered an 8"
Equatorially mounted Newtonian Reflector at comparatively
bargain basement pricing. The kicker was that they would custom make
the scope to your specifications.
I went with an 8'' f/7, to give me
somewhat of a wide field. Since I
was primarily into photography I wanted something wide and more
importantly, fast, without safrificing too much focal length. I ordered
a 2" focuser with a 2 1/4" oversized elliptical secondary to be sure to
capture the entire image on the film plane of a camera. I also went
with an oversized finder scope. Later I added a homemade slow motion
declinatrion control to the mounting to aid in photography.
Since I lived in the city and had
to travel to observation sites and
this scope was barely portable, I mounted the scope in the back of my
pickup truck in a utulity bed. One of the large utility boxes was
converted to a carrying case for the scope while in transit. When I
arrived at an observing site, I would park the truck facing due south
using a compass. I had welded four hydraulic pistons to each corner of
the frame of the truck. Before observing I would use to these cylinders
to lift the entire truck off it's suspension system to allow myself and
others to use the scope without the truck bed moving as we moved around
the truck bed. The sides of the utility boxes were very handy seats,
since we usually observed to the east or west, putting the observer at
just the right height.
This scope provided me with many
years of service. I still have it in
the garage in mothballs. If it were to be re-aluminized I could get
many more years of service out of it.
With Halley's Comet approaching in
1986 I decided to purchase something
more "portable, so I did some shopping around and decided that, once
again, dolar for dollar, to purchase another Meade Insrument. This time
I went with the 2080B LX2. With a declination motor attached, this was
the ultimate telescope. The portability, ease of setup and polar
alignment and accuracy of the drive was phenomenal. The only thing I
disliked was that this scope was an f/10. It was way too slow for my
tastes, but again I got many years of faithful service from it.
Meade's well known 8" model was
part of the "2000" line introduced in 1980, and model 2080
became the designation for the basic fork mounted f/10 optical tube.
The original 2080 drive consisted of a worm gear system with 180 tooth
main gear driven by a synchronous AC motor. This was offered without
wedge and tripod but included coated optics, a 6x30 finder, 1 ¼"
diagonal and 25mm eyepiece. This basic telescope was also available as
the 2080B having multi-coated optics for better light transmission. In
1984 the company improved the machining on the worm gear drive and
introduced the "LX" drive. Later the same year they marketed this
telescope with a 8x50 finder and erfle eyepiece, along with the
addition of improved coatings on the optical surfaces as the LX2. The
appearance both models visually is identical to the standard 2080
except for the "LX" mark.
son & I camped in Saguaro National Monument, near Aho Way, Arizona
for Halley's Comet, 1986
years later photgraphing
Comet Pojmansky in 2006
2006 I bought an Olympus E-500 digital camera to replace my old
faithful OM-1 astrocamera which had finally given up on me after 25
years. To my chagrin, when I attached the digital camera to the
I realized that digital cameras are not quite the same as 35mm
cameras. The field of vision is a lot smaller. I could not capture an
image of the full moon using this scope and a digital camera.
Not sure what to do next, lady luck
smiled on me. One day I walked into
my local camera shop and there on the floor in the corner was a Meade
2080 LX6 at f/6.3. This little bit of reduction in focal length
provided enough of a focal length reduction to allow a full moon
captured in my digital camera. So, once again I had the capability of
capturing eclipses. I took the scope home and ran it through it's
paces, only to discover that the drive unit did not work. I contacted
Meade's Service group and learned that for a reasonable fee thay would
fix the drive for me and while they had the scope in the shop they
would also take it apart and clean and aligh the optical system as
The next member of the
line was introduced in 1988 as the LX6,
which was initially released as an f/6.3 optical assembly on both the
8" and 10" scopes. A microprocessor was added to the electronics in the
base which allowed connection of optional electronic setting circles or
the Computer Aided Telescope system 'CAT' that was released in the same
year. Both allowed slewing the telescope manually to a particular
object chosen by the user.
A new hand paddle was added with a display for the
above options. The same 9x60 polar finder, 2" mirror star diagonal,
wedge, tripod, carrying trunk and eyepieces were carried over from the
LX-5 in the initial versions.
Setup in 2006
With the LX6 tuned up and ready to go I
mounted a 3" Meade Saturn
refractor piggyback style to use for guiding while taking photos.
did not last long as the view in a 3" refractor just didn't suit my
needs and it restriced the overhead movement of the scope.
(And I got
tired of banging my head on it.)
So, I moved the refractor forward a bit to eliminate the head
banging and added a Meade ETX90.